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2019 n volume 66 n number 1

pioneer

Introducing

a newly rediscovered

22-foot painted

panorama by

C. C. A. Christensen

Published by the Sons of Utah Pioneers


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pioneer

THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF THE

SONS OF UTAH PIONEERS

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL:

PRESIDENT: Anthony C. Tidwell

PRESIDENT-ELECT: Wayne K. Hinton

PAST PRESIDENT: Keith Van Roosendaal

features

2 Carl Christian Anton

Christensen: The Pioneer

Era’s Artist-Historian,

by Bob Folkman

8 “It Is Priceless”: C. C. A.

Christensen’s Untitled

[Huntington/Lamanite

Panorama], by Laura

Allred Hurtado

16 Images of Untitled

[Huntington/Lamanite

Panorama]

38 “Like Fire in the Dry Grass”:

Shoshone Conversions and

the Christensen Teaching

Scroll, by R. Devan Jensen,

Scott R. Christensen, and

Darren Parry

48 Other Works by C. C. A.

Christensen, by Laura

Allred Hurtado

iv

departments

1 President’s Message:

by Tony Tidwell

7 Journal Entry: From the

Diary of Frederick Kesler,

compiled by R. Devan Jensen

Monument: Washakie—

Chief of the Shoshone .... 47

65 Pioneer Vignette:

“Handcart Pioneers”

COVER: “Moroni Hiding the

Plates,” Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite

Panorama]

by C. C. A. Christensen.

See page 34 this issue.

PUBLISHER: Dr. William W. Tanner

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & MAGAZINE DESIGNER:

Susan Lofgren

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD:

Dr. Thomas G. Alexander

Robert C. Folkman

Dr. F. Charles Graves

Dr. A. Keith Lawrence

Kent V. Lott, Publisher Emeritus

FINANCIAL: John E. Elggren

SUBSCRIPTIONS: Pat Cook

Email: nssup3@gmail.com

or go to the website. Annual subscription

cost is $25 per year or $45 for two years.

SUP WEBSITE: www.sup1847.com

NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS:

3301 East Louise Avenue, SLC, Utah 84109

(801) 484–4441

Email: sup1847@gmail.com

SUP LIBRARY &

AFFILIATE FAMILYSEARCH CENTER:

LIBRARY DIRECTOR: John Smith

OFFICE & LIBRARY HOURS:

10 am – 5 pm, Mon. – Thurs.

MISSION STATEMENT: The Mission of

the National Society of the Sons of Utah

Pioneers is to come to know our fathers

and turn our hearts to them; we preserve

the memory and heritage of the early

pioneers of the Utah Territory and the

western U.S.; we honor present-day

pioneers worldwide who exemplify the

pioneer qualities of character; and we

teach these same qualities to the youth

who will be tomorrow’s pioneers.

THE PIONEER VALUES: We honor the

pioneers for their faith in God, devotion to

family, loyalty to church and country, hard

work and service to others, courage in

adversity, personal integrity, and unyielding

determination.

© 2019 National Society of the Sons

of Utah Pioneer


2019

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President’s Message

I by Tony Tidwell

Pioneer

magazine is

honored to

have been asked

by the Church

History Museum

to help bring to

public view a recently discovered series

of historic paintings by pioneer artist

C. C. A. Christensen. A Danish convert

and pioneer settler of Sanpete County,

Utah, Carl Christian Anton Christensen

immigrated in 1857 with the 7th

Handcart Company. Christensen is now

recognized as the greatest pioneer

painter of his time. His best-known art

captures the span of early Latter-day

Saint history from the founding events

and persecutions of the Church to the

pioneer migration into the American

West by wagon train and handcart.

Christensen was an artist, poet,

writer, publisher, and composer—and

throughout his varied works, he was a

storyteller. Forgoing static landscapes

and still-lifes, he painted epic scenes rich

with movement. He is most noted for

Mormon Panorama, his huge 6.5-by-

175-foot canvas scroll depicting twentythree

scenes from early Church history.

He toured the western United States

with this scroll, sharing his unshakable

faith. He used his pictures to teach and

often accompanied his formal narration

with his own poems and hymns.

Christensen also painted murals for the

Manti and St. George temples and twice

returned to Scandinavia as a missionary.

In this issue we are privileged to

introduce Pioneer

readers to an even

earlier scroll painted by Christensen, a

smaller and more portable scroll used

by missionaries to teach Native Americans

about the Restoration. Descendants

of the missionaries who originally

used the scroll preserved it and recently

facilitated its acquisition by the Church.

Recently, while traveling through

Denmark, my wife and I made the

pilgrimage to Frederiksborg Castle to

view twenty-three Carl Bloch paintings

in the King’s Praying Chamber there.

In Copenhagen we walked the wharf

where the bronzed statue of Hans

Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid

still looks to sea for her sailor. And we

visited the Royal Danish Academy of

Fine Arts where Bloch and Anderson’s

contemporary, C. C. A. Christensen,

studied his craft. In the Copenhagen

Denmark Temple we saw a beautiful

mural painted by artist Joseph Brickey

depicting many of Denmark’s most

influential leaders and artists, including

sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen and painters

Bloch and Christensen.

As you read this issue of Pioneer

you

will get to know much more about C.

C. A. Christensen, the man believed by

some to have given up his art for his faith.

Instead you will discover a man who

dedicated his art to his faith—a devoted

disciple with an enduring legacy.

ANTHONY C. TIDWELL

SUP NATIONAL PRESIDENT 2019

SPECIAL

THANKS

to Alan

Johnson, Church History Museum

director; Carrie Snow, manager of

Collections Care at the Church History

Museum; LDS Philanthropies;

and the generous donors whose

contributions made it possible for

the Museum to acquire the Christensen

scroll. Thanks to the Virginia

and Gary Hipwell family for being

stewards of this priceless work of

art; Steven L. Olsen for his research;

and Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Church

Historian Emeritus, whose network

helped secure this donation. We also

appreciate the support of Elder Steven

E. Snow, Church Historian, and

Elder Legrand R. Curtis Jr., who will

serve as Church Historian following

Elder Snow’s release in June.

Additional authors and contributors to the story of the Huntington/Lamanite Scroll

include left to right: Scott R. Christensen, Laura Allred Hurtado, R. Devan Jensen, Robert C.

Freeman, Daren Parry, Melody Parry, Micah Christensen, and Andrea Radke-Moss.

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C. C. A. Christensen (1831–1912), Leaving Missouri,

c.1878, tempera on muslin, 78 1/8 x 114 1/8 inches.

Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of the

grandchildren of C.C.A. Christensen, 1970.


CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON

CHRISTENSEN

The Pioneer Era’s

Artist-Historian

BY BOB FOLKMAN

The best-known artist

of the Latter-day

Saint pioneer era is

undoubtedly the Danish

handcart pioneer Carl

Christian Anton Christensen.

Throughout his

life he was known as Carl

to family and friends, but

he is most often identified

today by his distinctive

signature, C. C. A.

Christensen.

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C. C. A. was born in

Copenhagen, Denmark

in 1831, joined The

Church of Jesus Christ

of Latter-day Saints in

1850, and emigrated to

the United States and

Utah with a company of

mostly Scandinavian Saints

in 1857. He and Elise Scheel,

his Norwegian-born wife of less

than a year, settled in Sanpete County where he made

his living as a farmer, house painter, and handyman—

even after his talents as an artist, writer, and historian

were recognized. As he developed both practical

and artistic abilities, his deeply-held testimony and

commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ were his

primary motivations.

It has been suggested that C. C. A. Christensen

was not an artist who painted historical scenes as

much as he was a historian who used art to preserve

a historical record. Twenty-two years after he

and Elise crossed the plains with the 7th Handcart

Company, Christensen hinted at his understanding

of his artistic calling: “The old generation who bore

the burdens of the day in the persecutions in Ohio,

Missouri, and Illinois will no longer be with us a

few years hence. History will preserve much, but art

alone can make the narrative of the suffering of the

Saints comprehensible for posterity.” 1

Carl, the oldest of four sons, showed early

promise in both writing and artistic expression.

Although his parents were often in a state of poverty,

they arranged for him to attend a combined boarding

school and orphanage that had a good reputation.

At age fourteen Carl was apprenticed to a

cabinet-maker, but his artistic skills were noticed by

a wealthy widow who sponsored Carl for admittance

to the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He

was apprenticed there for five years to a landscape

painter, Carl Rosent.

In 1850 Christensen’s mother, Dorothea,

a woman of lifelong faith, met missionaries

from The Church of Jesus

Christ of Latter-day Saints

and was baptized. Her four

sons followed her example

shortly thereafter. In 1853,

and at the age of twelve,

her youngest son left for

America with a company

of Saints. Dorothea and DOROTHEA CHRISTIANE

THRANUM CHRISTENSEN

two other sons immigrated

to Utah in 1854, while Carl remained for a short time

at the Royal Academy. Dorothea passed away in Salt

Lake City in 1855 and is buried there. Carl’s father,

Mads, remained in Denmark and died there in 1860.

After leaving the Royal Academy in 1852, C. C.

A. served as a missionary in Denmark and later in

Norway, where he first met the young woman who

would become his wife, Elise Rosalie Sternbiem

Scheel, and where he also met and taught the gospel

to the artist Danquart Anthon [Dan] Weggeland, who,

like Carl, had attended the Royal Danish Academy.

Dan joined the Church and came to Utah in 1862,

where he and Christensen were frequent artistic collaborators.

After serving these two missions, C. C. A.

married Elise in 1857 on board the Westmoreland, the

sailing ship that would carry more than 500 Scandinavian

Saints to the United States. After the handcart

journey from Iowa City to Utah, the Christensens

settled near two of Carl’s brothers in Sanpete County,

first living in Fairfield, then in Mt. Pleasant.

The demands of making a living and providing

for his large family required most of Carl Christensen’s

energy during his first decade in Utah, and

indeed throughout his life. He and Elise had seven

children by 1874. In 1865 he went again to Norway

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to serve a three-year mission. After returning to

Utah in 1868, and while living in Mt. Pleasant, he

met Maren Pedersen who had recently arrived in

Ephraim from Norway. She became his second wife

in November. They had an additional seven children,

five of whom lived to adulthood.

In the spring of 1870 Carl moved his family to

Ephraim, where they remained the rest of their

lives. But his farm in Ephraim was too small to

produce enough to meet the family’s needs, leading

Carl to acquire additional land in an inexpensive

area called Manasseh, southwest of Ephraim. As opportunities

arose he earned additional income for his

family by painting homes and barns and by laying

bricks. He and his friend Weggeland painted scenery

for theatres—and murals for three pioneer-era

temples, Manti, St. George, and Logan.

As his artistic skills began to be recognized,

Christensen received a commission from Dimick

Huntington, who had been set apart as a missionary

to Native Americans in the Utah Territory and

who was the leading translator during interactions

between Church leaders and members of local Indian

bands. Huntington asked Christensen to paint a

series of pictures of biblical and Book of Mormon

events that could be used in teaching native peoples

the restored gospel. Huntington wanted the pictures

to be painted on a scroll that could be rolled to expose

one image at a time while Huntington or his fellow

missionary, George Washington Hill, explained

gospel principles to audiences. This relatively small

vertical scroll, measuring eighteen inches by twentytwo

feet, was used extensively by the two missionaries

during the decade of the 1870s. While Christensen

did not give a formal name to the scroll or its

artwork, it is officially referred to today as Untitled

[Huntington/Lamanite Panorama]. Its fascinating

story is told in this issue of Pioneer in the articles “It

is Priceless” and “Like Fire in the Dry Grass.”

As a result of the effectiveness of this scrollbased

teaching technique, C. C. A. Christensen

developed a much larger scroll during the late 1870s

that he himself would use to explain the history of

the Church to audiences throughout the settlements

in Utah and in neighboring territories—audiences

that were often comprised of Scandinavian settlers

whose knowledge of Church history was limited. C.

C. A. earned a modest income from these presentations

that were generally held during the winter

months when little could be done on his Sanpete

County farm. The dimensions of the paintings on

this second scroll were almost mural-like at 7 feet by

10 feet and were painted on heavy linen. The resulting

scroll, called The Mormon Panorama, was 175

feet long. One of Christensen’s brothers would travel

with him to help manipulate the heavy scroll during

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“HARVEST SCENE IN EPHRAIM,” 1904

BY C.C.A. CHRISTENSEN; COVER OF UTAH

HISTORICAL QUARTERLY, 78:1 (WINTER 2010)

the presentations where it was hung over ropes suspended

between two portable tripods.

Both scrolls became “lost”—or more accurately

“forgotten”—after the period of their primary use in

the 1870s and 1880s. But while the historical importance

of the paintings on the scrolls was not fully

understood by their separate caretakers during these

“lost” years, they were preserved for decades and

eventually found their way into museums affiliated

with the Church. The Mormon Panorama paintings are

owned by the BYU Museum of Art; in 1970 the paintings

were separated and mounted individually for an

exhibit at the prestigious Whitney Museum of American

Art in New York City. The Mormon Panorama is

now widely recognized for its vigorous style and bright

colors, the vitality of its human figures, and its unique

portrayal of historical scenes from the settling of the

American West. 2 The more recently recovered scroll,

Untitled, is in the possession of the Church History

Museum in Salt Lake City and is presented to the public

in this issue of Pioneer by permission.

Nationally known art historian and critic Jane

Dillenberger tried to put an exclamation point on

the importance of C. C. A. Christensen’s paintings

when she wrote, “Christensen’s significant paintings

are as expressive to me as they are to Mormons. Indeed,

I believe that I, and historians of American art,

value them more highly than do the Mormon people

for whom they were made.” 3

Throughout his life, Carl Christian Anton

Christensen was an intelligent and capable student;

he became an equally capable writer, poet, and

teacher. His articles in the Danish language periodical

Bikuben were beloved by the Scandinavian citizens

of the Utah territory, and especially in his home

county of Sanpete, where as many as two-thirds of

the settlers were from Scandinavia. His writing had

a familiar, often humorous, and sometimes satirical

ring, and a commonly heard phrase in his home

town was, “Jo, jo, CCA har sagt det,” which translates

as “Yes, yes, CCA has said it.” 4 He eventually

became the editor of Bikuben. He wrote the history

of the Scandinavian Mission with Church historian

Andrew Jenson, translated English-language hymns

into Danish, and wrote original hymns in his native

language. It is reported that some of his Danish

hymns are still in use in Denmark today.

Carl served a final mission to Denmark in 1887-

89, during which he edited the periodical Scandinaviens

Stjerne [Scandinavian Star]. His testimony of

the restored Church of Jesus Christ never wavered,

and for sixty years, in both English and Danish,

he was an inspiring speaker and writer on gospel

subjects. During the last decade of his life he taught

art and Danish at the Sanpete Stake Academy that

became Snow College in Ephraim.

C. C. A. Christensen passed away in Ephraim

in 1912 at the age of 81 and is buried there alongside

his two wives, one of his brothers, and many other

family members.

1 C. C. A. Christensen, in Bikuben, 20 Mar 1879.

2 Carl Carmer, “A Panorama of Mormon Life,” in Art in

America, (May–Jun 1970): 54.

3 Jane Dillenberger, “Mormonism and American Religious

Art” in Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels,

187–200.

4 William Mulder, “’Man kalder mig Digter’: C. C. A. Christensen,

Poet of the Scandinavian Scene in Early Utah,” Utah

Humanities Review 1:10.

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journal entry I compiled by R. Devan Jensen

From the Diary of Frederick Kesler

Baptism of American Indians at Dimick B. Huntington’s Property

March 15, 1875:

“Went to D. B. Huntingtons to select a place for the

Baptising of the Lamanites which he wants near his

Dwelling[.] there seems to be quite a stir amongst

the Lamanites[.]”

March 18:

“I attended a council in our School House. It was with

the Indians[,] & Pst. Young, D. H. Wells & George Q.

Cannon ware present. D. B. Huntington was interpreter.

the indians manifest a desire to go to farming

& of living more as we do[.]”

March 19:

“Prst Young & his Councilers met in council with

the Lamanites in our ward School House[.] 50 or

60 indians ware present[.] a few of our Breathern

ware presant[.] a Small panarama got up by D. B.

Huntington was exhibited commencing with adam

& eve in the garden of Eaden with several interesting

circumstances or insidences which transpired

from then until the time that the angle moroni

delivered the plates unto Joseph Smith. each picture

was Explained unto them. They were very mutch

interest[ed]. Pst. Young gave them some verry timely

& good Council . . . ”

“From March 20–25, he secured materials, pipes, and

carpentry help to construct the “Indian house & font,”

filling the font “without difficulty.”

March 28:

“At 10 ocl[ock] I met Bp E. Hunter G Busker & severial

others as well as my council at CD. B. Huntingtons

for the purpose

of Dedicating the

Font which I had recently

constructed for the Baptising of Lamanites[.] Br Wallace

offered up the Dedication prayer after which we

had short speeches from Bp. Hunter, Br Wallace and

myself after which I visited our Sunday school whare

220 ware in attendance.

“The font that’s made was constructed of plank 2

in[.] in thickness & was 8 feet long & 5 feet wide & 3

feet 2 in[.] deep in the clear pure spring water was

conveyd in to it by galvanized cross pipes 10 Rods &

also had an overlow pipe to carry off the water after

rising so high which was to the Depth of 3 feet ½

in. A house was erected over it with a room therein

for the people to dress & undress in[.] I placed the

font lengthen’s East & west & so that the man that

officiated would stand with his face to the South so

that he would lay the candidate when Buried in the

water east & west with thare head to the west being

a similitude of the graves which lies the same way &

when raised from eather our faces are towards the

East whare all light come from[,] this being the first

Font build & Dedicated by the Holy priesthood for

the Baptising of the remnants of Jacob in this last

dispensation & by myself[.]”

Source: Diary of Frederick Kesler, 1874–1877, J. Willard Marriott

Library, University of Utah, online. Thanks to Jonathan A.

Stapley for this reference.

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“It Is Priceless”

C. C. A. Christensen’s Untitled

[Huntington/Lamanite Panorama]

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BY LAURA ALLRED HURTADO

Former Global Acquisitions Art Curator,

Church History Museum

Referring to the recently discovered

22-foot painted panorama by C. C. A.

Christensen, Steven L. Olsen, former

managing director of the Church

History Department, said, “This

may be the single most important ‘discovery’ of

Latter-day Saint art in my thirty-year career.” 1 Later,

Olsen made an even bolder claim: “The soon-tobe-acquired

scroll painted by pioneer artist C.C.A.

Christensen is one of the most important works of

art collected by the Church History Department

in this generation.” 2 Utah art gallerist David Ericson

believes the panorama is “the most important

nineteenth-century Latter-day Saint doctrinal visual

document that I have seen or that has been discovered

in the last thirty years. It is priceless.” 3 Robert

Davis, past curator for the Church History Museum,

judges the scroll to be of “the greatest significance,

rarity, and usefulness.” 4

Just what is this

“priceless” find of

“this generation”?

It is a dramatic eleven-panel panorama or scroll

painted by C. C. A. Christensen in the early 1870s

after receiving a commission from Dimick Huntington,

a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter-day Saints. 5 This newly rediscovered scroll

was apparently untitled by the artist, but it is now

officially known as Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite

Panorama]. Huntington and fellow missionary

George Washington Hill had been called to share

their faith with members of the Gosiute, Ute, Paiute,

and Shoshone (Western and Shoshone-Bannock)

nations. The scroll was jointly used by the two missionaries

to teach Native Americans the biblical

history of the world

and events of the Restoration,

starting with

Adam and Eve in the

Garden of Eden and

ending with Joseph

Smith receiving the

gold plates from the

DIMICK HUNTINGTON

angel Moroni.

The scroll’s creator, C. C. A. Christensen, was a

Danish convert who served missions in Denmark and

Norway before immigrating to Utah with his wife,

Elise Rosalie Sternhjem Scheel, in the 7th Handcart

Company in 1857, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley

in September of that year and ultimately settling in

Sanpete County. Before his immigration and missions,

Christensen studied art at the Royal Danish

Academy of Fine Arts at Charlottenborg Palace, first

while apprenticing as a carpenter in the evenings, and

then under painter Carl Rosent, who was best known

as a decorative artist. At the Academy, Rosent was essentially

an adjunct faculty member and taught easel,

decorative, and house painting. Christensen, within

the apprentice process, rose to the level of perspective

drawing but then stagnated, never rising to live-model

drawing. His arrested artistic development may have

been caused by his religious conversion, or, given the

narrow expertise of his mentor, it may have been the

logical end of his apprenticeship. 6 For whatever reason,

his training was limited even though Christensen

studied at one of the most significant art schools in

Denmark during the “global age of Danish painting.”

Indeed, his works have a particular flatness to them,

created in a folkish and naïve style. His figures lack

modeling and a rich understanding of anatomy, but

his colors are warm and his subject matter significant.

Had Christensen stayed in Denmark and not

converted to the Church of Jesus Christ, his artistic

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output likely would have been forgotten. But as

an American artist and a Latter-day Saint on the

western frontier, his works function as historic

documents, particularly his studies of early Utah

pioneers. His best-known and most celebrated work,

Mormon Panorama (1878), is a 175-foot-long scroll

with twenty-three paintings, indexing the history

of the foundation of the Church. It is considered by

biographers Richard Jensen and Richard Oman to be

the “most complete visual history of the early formative

period of Mormon history ever painted.” 7 This

panorama was used for decades as a tool to preserve

the first-person accounts of early Church history for

younger generations.

The Christensen family’s donation of the Mormon

Panorama to Brigham Young University

in the 1950s greatly raised its profile, and by

the 1970s not only was it well recognized within the

Church community and praised by Elder Boyd K.

Packer in his famed “Art and the Spirit of the Lord”

speech, but it was also receiving prominent national

exposure. One of its twenty-two individual panels

appeared on the cover of the elite Art in America; its

separated panels were exhibited in the prestigious

Whitney Museum of American Art; and Mormon

Panorama was dubbed the “art discovery of 1970.” 8

Such exposure and critical appreciation was significant

because it marked a rare moment when Latterday

Saint subject matter appeared on a national

platform for objective reasons. Said scholar Jane

Dillenberger, “It is certain that the discovery of the

Christensen paintings meant for the outside world

the discovery of Mormon art.” 9

It is noteworthy, then, that the Church History

Museum’s recently acquired Christensen work—

Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite Panorama]—was

created sometime between 1871 and 1875, and

thus predates the famed Mormon Panorama by

at least three years. 10 Various informal names for

this untitled panorama exist, including “doctrinal

panorama,” 11 “C. C. A. Christensen eleven-panel

ART IN AMERICA, MAY–JUNE 1970

panorama,” 12 “Gospel through the Ages Panorama,” 13

and the “Huntington scroll.” Jensen and Oman, in

their 1984 book C. C. A. Christensen refer to it simply

as the “Huntington panorama.”

The panorama is cited in at least one primary

source contemporaneous with Christensen, the journal

of Latter-day Saint Bishop Frederick Kesler, who

wrote, on March 19, 1875, the following:

Prst Young & his Councilers met in council

with the Lamanites in our ward School House[.]

50 or 60 indians waere present a few of our

Breathern present [.] a Small panorama got up

by D. B. Huntington was exhibited commencing

with adam & eve in the garden of Eaden with

several interesting circunstances or insidences

which transpired from then until the time that

the angle moroni delivered the plates unto

Joseph Smith. Each picture was Explained unto

them. They ware very timely & good Council. 14

The current article follows Kesler’s lead in not

assigning a name to the scroll, referencing it simply

as Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite Panorama],

given that Kesler describes the scroll in terms of its

commissioner—the missionary who used it—and

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the American Indian

nations for whom it was

created. 15

But how exactly

does a scroll like this go

“undiscovered” for so

long? Kept and passed

down by the Hill family

(after it was transferred

to Huntington’s former

missionary companion,

GEORGE WASHINGTON HILL George Washington Hill,

following the death of

Huntington), the scroll was stored in a variety of locations,

including under a waterbed. Apparently it was also used,

on occasion, as a racing surface for Matchbox cars. It was

ultimately inherited by Virginia Hill Beus Hipwell, a granddaughter

of George Washington Hill. Hipwell’s daughterin-law

happened to mention to Church Historian and

Recorder Elder Marlin K. Jensen—during the planning of

their sixty-year high school reunion—that the family owned

a scroll signed by artist C. C. A. Christensen. Offers of

valuables “found in Grandma’s attic” are common to most

collecting institutions, museums, and libraries. But rare and

significant indeed is a nineteenth-century work of art by a

well-known artist—a work with such unique subject matter,

historic meaning, and clear provenance; a work preserved

by the family who inherited it but lost to scholars.

Significant praise is owed to the Hill descendants,

who not only were responsible caretakers of the panorama,

but maintained the scroll intact and (despite light

“racetrack usage”) in good condition for decades.

Painted panoramas were an extremely popular element

of mass culture from the late eighteenth century

through the late nineteenth, and were used for entertainment,

education, travel lectures, and propaganda. They are

thought of today as a precursor to motion pictures in that

they employed moving painted scenes in the delivery of

performative narration. Like films today, panoramas created

an illusion of “being there,” capturing particular historical

moments through visual images and accompanying

oral narrative. Some panoramas were very large, nearly

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the size of theater sets. 16 The showing of such panorama

paintings was usually set to a narrative script and paired

with performances, lighting, sound, and a whole host of

other theatrical elements. For the viewer, it was a carefully

designed, fully immersive experience for its time.

While panoramas came in a variety of forms (dioramas,

circle panoramas, and cycloramas, to name a few),

Christensen, like many other artists in the United States,

used the moving panorama form. This form employed

a long, canvas-backed scroll and was based loosely on

Chinese traditions. Either end of the scroll was attached

to a large vertical roller. A frame or stand held the scroll

so that its separate pictures could be displayed one at a

time as assistants turned the rollers to change the image.

Through panoramas, each nineteenth-century viewer was

“casually changed from a passerby to an eyewitness of

highly significant events.” 17

Because of the tremendous size and ephemeral

nature of many panoramas, because of wear-and-tear

deriving from their repeated handling and being transported

long distances, and because of the advent of motion

pictures, very few panoramas have survived into the

twenty-first century. Of those that have survived, many

have been cut into separate pictures or sections—with

portions lost—or have excessive conservation issues that

render them undisplayable.

The Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite Panorama] is

unique in its relatively small scale compared to other panoramas

of its era, measuring only twenty-two feet long and

eighteen inches wide. The size alone suggests that, even in

its heyday, it didn’t have the same visual bravado or immersive

theatricality of larger-scale panoramas. The historical

context suggests that, in size and use, the scroll was more

a missionary flipchart than an entertainment spectacle:

it illustrated significant spiritual principles or doctrines

through relatively small depictions of religiously significant

moments in time. It was designed for use with small, intimate

gatherings; of such audiences, Kesler wrote that “each

picture was Explained unto them.” 18 While perhaps lacking

in drama, the scroll’s compact size made it more easily preservable

and more readily transportable, so that it could be

shared with audiences in the remotest parts of the Utah

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perhaps most intriguingly—European American settlers

and Native American peoples have familial connections.

Certainly, Latter-day Saint outreaches did

not constitute the first exposure of the Shoshone or

other indigenous peoples to proselytizing or to biblical

history. Yet, the missionaries’ perspective of American

Indians—as first taught by Joseph Smith—was surely

unique: that they “are a part of God’s chosen people,

and are destined, by heaven, to inherit this land in

common with them.” 20

Territory. Indeed, it is the only extant complete panorama

by a nineteenth-century Latter-day Saint artist.

In closely examining the subjects of the scroll,

gallerist David Ericson felt that “doctrinally, this

panorama has many visual references to the Temple

Endowment,” and he suggested relevant themes corresponding

to each of the eleven subjects of the scroll.

But such a reading assumes viewer understanding

of the temple ordinance. Put differently, it

assumes a particular audience of knowing members.

While it is true that the scroll was likely created after

Shoshone Chief Sagwitch and his wife Beawoachee

had been endowed and sealed in the Endowment

House in early 1875, its primary function was as a

proselytizing tool that enabled potential converts to

learn fundamental gospel doctrines and teachings. 19

Collectively, the scroll taught a kind of

overview of Judeo-Christian history. Individually,

however, its carefully selected pictorial subjects

taught focused spiritual (and political) messages to

the members of the Shoshone and other American

Indian nations who viewed it and heard the accompanying

narrative: violence is fraught with problems;

peace is dependent upon unity; obedience brings

blessings; ordinances and accompanying covenants

are vital to happiness and growth; America is a Promised

Land whose inhabitants are obliged to worship

the true God; Jesus Christ and his atonement should

be at the center of the individual human life; and—

Nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints often

used the terms Indian and Lamanite interchangeably

to capture the sentiments and

perspectives contemporary to the period. Nevertheless,

Lamanite specifically refers to a civilization and

people central to the Book of Mormon, a people

believed to be “among the ancestors of the American

Indians.” 21 Historian Ronald W. Walker said that

the Book of Mormon was not just “a record of the

Lamanites or Native American people, but a highly

unusual manifesto of their destiny.” 22 Historian

David Grua emphasizes the importance of millennialist

belief to nineteenth-century Latter-day

Saints, noting that their conception of the end of the

world was often paired with the arrival of the “Day

of the Lamanite.” 23 Within this context, the panorama

functioned as a tool of conversion as well as a type

of propaganda; in both roles, the panorama uniquely

targeted a specific population and highlighted

specific Latter-day Saint concerns—such as the

importance of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and

physical/spiritual security.

Several of the panels support these themes. For

example, panel two depicts the murder of Abel by his

brother Cain. Abel’s wounded body lies gruesomely

in the foreground, while Cain, whose face is unseen

by the viewer, retreats. The story of Cain and Abel

holds a particularly relevant warning for nineteenthcentury

Latter-day Saints and their Native American

neighbors: fraternal relationships are fatally severed

through conflict and violence. 24

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Drawing on a Book of Mormon story about the

righteous Nephi being tied to a ship’s mast by his

rebellious brothers, panel five also depicts sibling violence.

The peaceful and boyish-looking Nephi, bathed

in a gentle light, is portrayed in stark contrast to the

shadowed figures—and the surrounding storm—that

oppose him. In embryo, this scene depicts the family

division at the heart of what would become a gulf

between the two great nations of the Book of Mormon,

the Nephites and the Lamanites. Accordingly,

the panel suggests the nineteenth-century necessity

of healing and reconciliation, of the bringing together

in one society and faith America’s indigenous peoples

and European American pioneers.

Baptism and, by extension, obedience to God’s

commandments, are also recurring themes. The

image of baptism is first suggested by panel three

(Noah and the Ark) and then underscored in panel

seven (Baptism of Jesus). The story of the Flood is a

cautionary one. Only those who obey God’s commandments

and follow his prophet survive the

earth’s tumultuous baptism. Viewers of the panel are

thus urged to get on board. With the threat of annihilation

looming for American Indian nations, this

message would have been tangibly—and perhaps

offensively—clear.

Jesus’s exemplary baptism, as depicted in panel

seven, diffuses the potential ethnocentrism of panel

three by its forwarding the example of Christ and its

underscoring the importance of loving and obeying

God. Regardless of one’s position, ethnicity, nationality,

or perspectives, one best discovers joy through

loving and serving God. Through Christ, even the

terrible violence of the crucifixion is made holy,

enabling mortal redemption and salvation.

Panel six (Lehi’s Family Arriving in the

Promised Land) introduces the American continent

as the “promised land” described in the Book of

Mormon. Panel nine (Christ and His Disciples in the

New World) creates America as a Holy Land where,

as in Palestine, Christ taught, performed miracles,

and established his Church.

Panels ten and eleven connect religious histories

of the past to the nineteenth-century present. Panel

ten shows Moroni, a Book of Mormon prophet,

hiding the plates that recorded the spiritual history

of his people, the Nephite and Lamanite civilizations.

In panel eleven, Joseph Smith is shown receiving

those same plates from the same Moroni, now a

resurrected heavenly messenger. Thus, the panorama

emphasizes that it is through the restored Church

of Jesus Christ that American Indians—as descendants

of Book of Mormon peoples and as inheritors

of priceless birthrights—can understand and reach

their great potential.

As documented in letters and journals of the

time period, Huntington, Hill, and other Latter-day

Saint missionaries were successful in teaching and

baptizing many Shoshone, Bannock, Ute, and other

American Indians. Although relationships between

European American Latter-day Saints and their Native

American converts are not without sometimes

serious flaws, the first American Indian converts

played crucial roles in early Latter-day Saint history

throughout the West, and their lives and faith

continue to inform the culture and makeup of The

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today.

Outside Bishop Kelser’s journal, it is difficult to

know the precise impact of Christensen’s scroll on

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early Latter-day Saint missionary work

among indigenous peoples, and the

impetus of conversion among early

American Indian Saints—while heartfelt—remains

layered. That Christensen

continued making panoramas,

however, supports his apparent belief

that the medium had unique powers

to tell compelling stories and to

capture the essence of what it meant to

be a Latter-day Saint.

1 Steven L. Olsen, “C. C. A. Christensen

Panorama,” email to McClain Bybee, 2 Dec

2010.

2 Steven L. Olsen, “C. C. A. Christensen

Scroll: Proposal for a Strategy of Professional

Care,” unpublished text, 20 Apr 2017,

Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite Panorama]

object file, Church History Museum.

3 David Ericson, “C. C. A. Christensen Doctrinal

Panorama Appraisal,” 22 Jun 2010, 1.

4 Robert O. Davis, “Background Data from

C. C. A. Christensen’s Newly-Discovered

Eleven-Panel Panorama: Providing Context

to Evaluate the Recently Found Collection

of 11 Paintings,” unpublished text, 7

Sep 2010, Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite

Panorama] object file, Church History

Museum.

5 Several secondary sources mention Dan

Weggeland as one of the painters of the

Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite Scroll], either

as creator or collaborator with C. C. A.

Christensen. The advertisement for a 2003

exhibition of both the Mormon Panorama

and the “Huntington scroll” at the BYU Museum

of Art connects Weggeland to this

scroll without attribution. The artists knew

each other and had collaborated on projects

early in their careers. However, the primary

evidence points only to Christensen.

The scroll itself is signed on the back by C.

C. A. Christensen, and Dimick Huntington’s

journal does not mention Weggeland. The

author of this article makes no other claim

for or against Weggeland’s possible role.

6 Richard L. Jensen and Richard G. Oman,

C. C. A. Christensen, 1831–1912: Mormon Immigrant

Artist (1984), 5. Jensen and Oman

say that Christensen’s conversion indirectly

caused his “arrested development” as an

artist, given that his baptism and subsequent

missionary service troubled the

patrons that supported his study, perhaps

leading to a withdrawal of funds. Christensen

himself wrote that his “dreams of

becoming an artist suddenly seemed to

be destroyed or overthrown for good since

we anticipated that the end of the world

would come within a few years” (“C. C. A.

Christensen’s Levnedsløb,” 337). There are

undoubtedly other causes of Christensen’s

stalled training, including the tutelage of

his craft-based mentor, the biases of his patrons,

and an underdeveloped natural skill.

7 Ibid 91.

8 Ibid.

9 Jane Dillenberger, “Mormonism and

American Religious Art,” Reflections on

Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels, ed.

Truman G. Madsen (1978). A pioneer art

historian, Dillenberger was among the first

to explore relationships between modern

art and religion, authoring such books as

The Religious Art of Pablo Picasso and The

Religious Art of Andy Warhol.

10 Dating based on the date on the

obverse of the panorama, contemporary

photographs, and primary source references.

11 Ericson 1.

12 Davis 1.

13 “Acquisition Case Statement: C. C. A.

Christensen’s ‘Gospel Through the Ages’

Panorama,” unpublished text, Church

History Department, 1 Mar 2011; Untitled

[Huntington/Lamanite Panorama], object

file, Church History Museum.

14 Diary of Frederick Kesler, 1859–1874, J.

Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah,

as cited in Jonathan Stapley, “From the

Archives: Native Americans and Frederick

Kesler,” Juvenile Instructor website, 4 Dec

2013, online.

15 Lamanite is in no means a neutral term

now, but within nineteenth-century Latterday

Saint contexts, was coded positive.

For more about Church usage of the term

Lamanite, see Michael R. Ash, “Challenging

Issues, Keeping the Faith: The Double

Meaning of the Term ‘Lamanite,’” Deseret

News, 3 May 2010.

16 Christensen was not the only panorama

painter in Utah. According to Jensen and

Oman, Ruben Kirkham, Alfred Lamborne,

and William Armitage also painted panoramas;

see John F. McDermott, The Lost

Panoramas of the Mississippi (1958) and Dolf

Sternberger, Panorama of the Nineteenth

Century (1977).

17 Sternberger 1.

18 “From the Archives: Native Americans

and Frederick Kesler,” op. cit.

19 Steven L. Olsen attaches a uniquely

“Book of Mormon reading” to the panorama,

particularly as referenced in Moroni

10:3, which invites faith-seekers to “remember

how merciful the Lord hath been unto

the children of men, from the creation of

Adam even down until the time that ye

shall receive these things and ponder it in

you hearts.”

20 Latter day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate

(Aug 1836), 354.

21 The phrase comes from the introduction

to the Book of Mormon, which summarizes

the text as providing “an account

of two great civilizations … known as the

Nephites and the Lamanites.” Admittedly,

both Indians and Lamanites are, for many

today, loaded and vexed terms.

22 Ronald W. Walker “Seeking the Remnant:

The Native American in the Joseph Smith

Period,” Journal of Mormon History 19.1

(1993): 5.

23 David Grua, “Painting the Mythical and

the Heroic: Joseph Preaches to the American

Indians,” Juvenile Instructor website, 19 Nov

2013, online.

24 “Race and the Priesthood,” Topics,

ChurchofJesusChrist.org, online

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Adam and Eve in

the Garden

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

As articles in this issue of Pioneer note, Salt Lake City bishop Frederick

Kesler wrote in his diary that, beginning on March 15,

1875, Dimick Huntington spent two weeks in meetings with groups

of Native Americans. In his presentations, Huntington showed scenes

from Christensen’s panorama while explaining vital principles of the

restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Kesler reported that the Indians “were

very mutch interest[ed]” in Huntington’s testimony.

The first scene in the panorama depicts Adam and Eve in the

Garden. Intriguingly, Christensen’s Garden of Eden is not a traditional

paradise of flowers, groomed shrubbery, and a gentle stream, but a

peaceful woodland. Christensen thus imagines the garden more as

a condition of peace and security than as an actual place. Animals in

the background are indiscriminately light and dark, underscoring their

paradisiacal equality as friendly, non-threatening, and meaningful creations

of a loving God.

But the continuance of this world hangs in the balance, dependent

on the decision Adam and Eve are poised to make. Adam reaches

for the fruit Eve holds. The light woven through the center of the scene

is surrounded by subtle shadow. The bear hovers near smaller and potentially

vulnerable creatures. Innocence is threatened by shame and

guilt. The serpent itself seems poised to strike.

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Cain and Abel

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

While Adam and Eve in the Garden depicts a choice enabling the

mortal understanding of right and wrong, the preservation of

agency, and the intercession of Christ, Cain and Abel shows a darkly

contrasting world: the confusion of right and wrong, the abuse of

agency, and the rejection of Christ. Cain reveals his guilt and fear by

running from his crime, looking back over his shoulder at the altar and

rejected offering—the seemingly inconsequential facts motivating his

jealous choice to “r[i]se up against Abel his brother” (Gen. 4:8).

The diagonal formed by the right side of the tree at the center of

the painting separates an open, enlightened space from a dark, constricted

one. Abel lies in the foreground bathed in a pool of light, his

body position suggesting sleep, not death. His accepted offering, a

sacrificial lamb, burns while blood flowing from Abel’s wound merges

with the altar-purification water puddled at the altar’s base. Abel is thus

depicted through Christ-centered imagery of redemption and life. In

contrast, Cain’s hurried retreat into a closed, shadowed world suggests

the spiritual costs of turning from God.

Kesler recorded in his diary on March 18, 1875, that “the indians

manifest a desire to go to farming & of living more as we do[.]” In this

context, Christensen’s painting may have had a more immediate application

to both Native Americans and whites listening to Huntington’s

lecture, serving as a visceral warning against violence and warfare, especially

between “brothers.”

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Noah and the Ark

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

Kesler reports that, on March 19, 1875, while teaching Indians from

the panorama scenes, President Brigham Young “gave them some

verry timely and good Council”—apparently focusing, in part, on obedience

and the keeping of covenant promises.

In his depiction of Noah and the Ark, Christensen indirectly portrays

Noah’s family being saved from the Flood. Christensen’s focus is on death:

the vulnerable bodies of unbelievers floating in the water and, somewhat

ironically, a predatory bird devouring a dead cat.

The post-Flood water is glassy and calm. The ark floats majestically

at the painting’s center. Although thunderheads still fill the sky, God

has promised Noah that humankind will never again be destroyed by

water. The rainbow signifying God’s covenant seems literally to bind

the ark to heaven, sanctifying and protecting its occupants as they

honor and obey God.

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Lehi’s Family Leaving

Jerusalem

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

Some viewers of the scroll have suggested that a cropped version

of this panel would be superior to its full form, a version removing

the bottom third of the panel (and the ballooned legs and stylized

moccasins of family members). But such cropping would also remove

the dog, a homely symbol of the family’s permanent departure, and

the abrupt terrain shift from vegetation to dust.

Christensen depicts the family immediately outside the walls of

Jerusalem, the city’s walls looming up behind them as an enormous

barrier marking their status as outsiders. Although barely beyond the

city gates, they seem already to be in a wilderness. Their vulnerability is

emphasized by their lack of traveling clothing, by their scanty possessions,

by their being few in number. (Interestingly, Lehi’s daughters are

not depicted in the painting.)

Nephi—presumably the foreground figure on the right—carries

his bow and a quiver of arrows is on his back. He carries a sword

through his sash—perhaps suggesting his subsequent acquisition of

the sword of Laban. Though obviously youthful, he gazes ahead unwaveringly.

The implication is that the family will survive by faith, dependent

on God for water, food, shelter, and all other necessary things.

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Nephi Tied

to the Mast

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

During their sea voyage to the New World, Laman, Lemuel, and others

rebelled against Lehi’s authority and Nephi’s counsel, eventually

tying Nephi to the mast of their ship. A few days later, as a fierce

storm threatened to destroy the ship, Nephi’s brothers humbled themselves

and untied him, and Nephi again helped guide the ship toward

the Promised Land.

A striking contrast to the imposing ship later depicted by artists like

Arnold Friberg, Christensen’s vessel seems barely larger than a rowboat.

The ghostly faces peering from the doorway of the boat’s cabin—presumably

those of Lehi and Sariah—are indeed representative of parents

“about to be brought down to lie low” (1 Ne. 18:18) because of grief over

their warring sons.

Christensen depicts a kind of local tempest, one surrounding the

family’s boat but not, apparently, encompassing the larger ocean. Perhaps,

Christensen seems to be suggesting, Laman and Lemuel falsely

believed that, through their own power, they could simply sail out of

danger into calmer waters. Nephi, meanwhile, is bound to a cross-like

structure in a clear reference to Christ. Resolute and unswayed, yet uncomplaining

and forgiving, Nephi proves through this experience his

worthiness to eventually succeed his father as God’s chosen leader over

the family.

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Lehi’s Family Arriving

in the Promised Land 1

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

In Lehi’s Family Arriving in the Promised Land, Christensen depicts Lehi’s

family immediately following their arrival in the Promised Land. Some

family members are still on the boat; others are wading to shore. And a

small number stand on the place that will become their new home, making

devotions to God their first act. The resemblance of the landscape

here bears striking resemblance to that of Adam and Eve in the Garden,

underscoring its pristine, sacred nature.

Nephi—identically clothed in all three panels depicting members

of Lehi’s family—kneels in the foreground, his hands raised in prayer. Behind

him, presumably, are his parents—Lehi and Sariah—and his younger

brothers, Jacob and Joseph. That these five are the first to set foot on

the land God has promised them demonstrates their unwavering faith in

and devotion to God—and their desire to immediately begin the work

God has assigned them. It is interesting that among these few figures are

the first three Nephite prophets: Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob. From the moment

of their arrival, Christensen suggests, family members are choosing

spiritual sides.

In Christensen’s scroll, Nephi becomes a type of Joseph Smith—a

youthful prophet who speaks with God in behalf of his family and who

carries spiritual burdens far beyond his years. Significantly, he is the only

figure in the painting directly facing the light.

1 The CHM-assigned research title is “Nephi Blessing the Promised Land”

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Baptism of Jesus

with Holy Ghost

in Form of Dove

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

Christensen’s Baptism of Jesus depicts the Savior emerging from

the River Jordan. John the Baptist has just performed Christ’s

baptism, but it is the bright diagonal of light that seems to raise Jesus,

drawing him heavenward as God the Father declares, “This is my beloved

Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). The sign of the dove

in the column of light evidences “the Spirit of God descending … and

lighting upon” Christ (Matt. 3:16).

This painting is significant for its ethereal quality. Beyond the central

light from heaven, boundaries or distinctions between earth and water

are blurred, perhaps helping emphasize baptism as a metaphorical

burial. More importantly, the painting suggests that nature itself is transformed

by its Creator’s infinite love and conformance to spiritual law.

Certainly Baptism of Jesus would have held significance for Native

Americans who embraced the restored gospel and accepted baptism. In

journal entries for March 1875, Kesler mentions an early Indian baptismal

service. From March 20 to 25, Kesler secured materials and pipes to construct

the “Indian house & font,” filling the font “without difficulty.” Kesler

rejoices in this “first Font buil[t] & Dedicated by the Holy priesthood for

the Baptising of the remnants of Jacob in this last dispensation.”

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Crucifixion of Christ

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

In Crucifixion of Christ Christensen portrays Christ on the cross with a

crown of thorns upon his head. The sign affixed to the cross bears

the letters INRI which stand for the Latin “Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm,”

meaning “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”

Given that both panels feature a column of heavenly light, Crucifixion

echoes Baptism of Jesus. In Crucifixion the column is comprised of

separate rays, its angle matching the angle of Christ’s head. The light suggests

motion, a pulling of the Savior toward it, perhaps suggesting the

moment of the Savior’s death.

The dying Christ is depicted as a solitary, forsaken figure walled out

from the city he longed to save. The colors of the painting are understandably

muted, with subtle purples—a traditional Easter color—suggesting

sorrow, suffering, and humility while simultaneously emphasizing

Christ’s royalty. Jesus’ mortal mission was ending, Jesus will rise the

third day as King of Kings.

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[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Christ and His

Disciples in the

New World

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

In Christ and His Disciples in the New World, Christensen depicts Christ

raising his right hand heavenward as he commissions twelve disciples

to baptize and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost (see 3 Nephi 12).

In their clothing, posture, and attitudes, the disciples are more individualized

than most other characters in the Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite

Panorama]. Interestingly, the men represent a variety of ages; their

positions relative to one another suggest distinctions in backgrounds

and interests. Because he understands how these men will later mature

as wise and dedicated apostles of Jesus Christ, Christensen may be underscoring

Christ’s power to unify and enable those who accept his call

to serve him with their hearts, minds, and strength.

The bucolic setting implicitly contrasts with the world the disciples

are commissioned to call to repentance. Background structures, including

a pyramid, represent nineteenth-century notions of ancient cultures,

and ruined buildings point to the destruction occurring before Christ’s

appearance in the Americas.

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Moroni Hiding

the Plates 2

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

In Moroni Hiding the Plates, Christensen seems to be depicting Moroni

(wearing European-looking armor) and his father, Mormon, hiding

the gold plates and the sword of Laban. A battle rages in the background,

and both men know their people will soon be destroyed.

The painting’s central figure, Moroni wears bright clothing that attracts

our attention to the prophet who will be the final keeper of the

plates and, eventually, the “lone survivor” of his people.

But there is hope in Christ’s promise to preserve a remnant of Lehi’s

family, and it is for this remnant, in large part, that the Nephite record

is written and preserved. In a later time, Lehi’s descendants will accept

Christ and the testimony of him written by their fathers (see 3 Ne. 20,

Moroni 10). This is the bright promise to which Mormon and Moroni

cling—a promise that, in the eyes of nineteenth-century Latter-day

Saints, was realized before their eyes in the conversion and baptisms of

Native Americans who accepted the restored gospel.

2 The CHM-assigned research title is “Moroni Burying the Plates”

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UNTITLED

[HUNTINGTON/LAMANITE PANORAMA]

CIRCA 1871–1875

Moroni Giving the

Plates to Joseph Smith

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

11-PANEL OIL ON LINEN PANORAMA

26 INCHES WIDE BY 264 INCHES LONG

COLLECTION OF THE

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

In Moroni Giving the Plates to Joseph Smith, Christensen portrays Joseph

Smith Jr. receiving the gold plates from the resurrected Moroni. During

periods of instruction from Moroni himself, Joseph was told that he must

prepare himself to translate the plates through the power of God—and

that he must then deliver the translated record to the world. Most especially,

however, he was to ensure that the translated record be taken to

the “Lamanites,” the native peoples of the Americas.

Christensen depicts Joseph kneeling on a steep hillside, reaching to

accept the invaluable record from the angel Moroni. The former hiding

place of the record lies exposed behind Moroni. The scene is peaceful

and reverent. It feels profoundly quiet.

Crucially, the scene itself reinforces the identity of the makers of the

Book of Mormon record, binding them to those of Lehi’s descendants

who would embrace the restored gospel and find personal relevance

in the Book of Mormon message. This represented, in the eyes of Dimick

Huntington and other early missionaries, the central purpose of Christensen’s

Untitled scroll.

“C. C. A. Christensen Doctrinal Panorama Appraisal,” 22 Jun 2010, 3; adapted.

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“Like Fire in the

Dry Grass”

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SHOSHONE

CONVERSIONS AND

THE CHRISTENSEN

TEACHING SCROLL

BY R. DEVAN JENSEN, SCOTT R. CHRISTENSEN,

AND DARREN PARRY 1

While Elder Marlin K. Jensen

was serving as Church Historian

and Recorder, he learned

that Gary Hipwell, husband

of a high school classmate, was the owner of

a twenty-two-foot-long painted scroll signed

on the back by Danish artist C. C. A. Christensen.

2 Ownership of this scroll had passed

through Hipwell’s family from his ancestor,

George Washington Hill, a missionary to the

Shoshone and Bannock nations. It had been

commissioned by Dimick Baker Huntington,

another early missionary, who spoke the Shoshone

language and was seeking a way to more

effectively teach the restored gospel of Jesus

Christ to Native Americans in the Intermountain

West and beyond.

For more than a century Latter-day Saints

generally considered the native peoples of

the Americas to be descendants of Book of

Mormon Lamanites—and thus fellow Israelites.

This understanding likely helped motivate

Huntington’s missionary endeavors, and it

may have influenced Christensen’s painted

scriptural scenes as well. The impressive scroll

proved to be an effective teaching tool and

attracted great interest from the Shoshone,

Bannock, and other native peoples. 3

BACKGROUND ART BY ALBERT BIERSTADT

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Survival of the Shoshone in the Balance

For several years after Latter-day Saints began settling

in the Rocky Mountains, the Shoshone retained full

access to Cache Valley, the epicenter of their world as

hunter-gatherers. Initially, the valley was considered too

cold for permanent white settlement. That changed in

September 1856 when, under the direction of Brigham

Young, Elder E. T. Benson instructed the members of the

failed Tooele County settlement of E. T. City 4 to colonize

what soon became known as Wellsville.

Within a short time, Latter-day Saint colonization

of Cache Valley began to negatively impact resident

Shoshones. Native grasses were grazed down before they

could produce seeds, an important Shoshone food source.

Game was overhunted and streams were fished-out. Although

Latter-day Saint leaders and members tried to follow

President Young’s policy of feeding the Indians rather

than fighting them, 5 tensions between the settlers and the

native people remained high. After white provocations in

1859, Shoshone men launched a campaign against Cache

Valley communities, including theft of horses and cattle

and direct confrontations with whites. 6

After several years of raids and escalating conflict,

Colonel Patrick E. Connor decided to eliminate the

“Indian problem.” On January 29, 1863, he led federal

troops in a surprise attack on the sleeping Shoshone

village at Beaver Creek near its confluence with the Bear

River, north of present-day Preston, Idaho. A lopsided

battle soon became

a wholesale massacre as

the Shoshone men tried

to mount a defense without

adequate weaponry

or protection. About four

hundred Shoshone men,

women, and children were

murdered; some Shoshone

women were raped as

they lay dying from their

wounds. Latter-day Saint settlers in Franklin cared for

the wounded and frostbitten soldiers and for several

wounded Shoshone women and children. 7

AFTER SEVERAL YEARS

OF RAIDS AND ESCALATING

CONFLICT, COLONEL

PATRICK E. CONNOR

DECIDED TO ELIMINATE

THE “INDIAN PROBLEM.”

Chief Sagwitch, who had long been on friendly

terms with the Church and its members, was injured in

the attack but survived. For a few months he approved

raids on Latter-day Saint cattle herds as retaliation for the

involvement of frontiersman Orrin Porter Rockwell as

Connor’s guide to the Shoshone camp and for the aid local

Latter-day Saints gave federal troops after the massacre.

Sagwitch then resumed a pattern of negotiating peaceful

coexistence. He also supported the signing of the Treaty of

Box Elder on July 30, 1863, which required the Shoshone

to adopt a policy of peaceful coexistence in return for land

retention and $5,000 of federal assistance each year.

With this treaty in place, the Shoshone resumed

hunting and gathering activities to the degree still possible

with so many prime areas now claimed and fenced

by white settlers. By 1871 several Shoshone bands had

been relocated to Fort Hall, the Wind River Reservation,

or other locations. 8

It was increasingly difficult by the early 1870s for

non-reservation Shoshone bands to maintain access

to traditional natural

resources as federal

policies and colonizing

white Saints increasingly

displaced them. Affili-

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THE BATTLE OF BEAR RIVER BY EDMOND J. FITZGERALD, LOCATED IN THE PRESTON, IDAHO, POST OFFICE.

ating with the Church of Jesus Christ as a strategy made

sense for many, including the various northern Shoshone

bands living in northern Utah and southeastern Idaho,

since conversion gave them social standing and hope for

a better future. Many members of the Northwestern Shoshone

bands led by Sagwitch and Sanpitch experienced

a conversion process that led not only to baptism but to

subsequent devotion to the Church.

Creation of the Panorama

It was likely in October 1871 that Carl Christian Anton

Christensen completed his scroll of eleven carefully

painted scenes portraying biblical and Book of Mormon

stories. 9 Christensen was a Danish immigrant who had

been studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

when he joined the Church of Jesus Christ in September

1850. 10 While serving as a missionary in Norway, he met

and taught Dan Weggeland, with whom he later collaborated

on several artistic projects in Utah Territory.

As with other Christensen projects, Weggeland may have

assisted with the Book of Mormon scroll, which rolled

vertically to display its paintings while the missionaries

taught their Indian investigators one scene at a time.

So why did Dimick Huntington 11 commission this

painted panoramic scroll to teach Native American

peoples? Panoramas were a fairly common form of

educational entertainment and religious instruction by

the mid-1850s. Philo Dibble had traveled throughout

Utah Territory showing scenes of the

Restoration, scenes that Christensen

then imitated and improved upon when

he created his own multi-scene scroll of

Church history. It made perfect sense to Huntington to

use the panoramic format to more effectively teach and

bring to life the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 12

“Mysterious Movement” among Native Tribes

In 1872 the Reverend George W. Dodge reported a

“mysterious movement” that started when a Nevada Paiute

(likely Wodziwob), 13 declared that he was appointed

by the Great Spirit to teach the “origin and destiny” of

“all the Indians in America” and how to reclaim the

good life they had lost. His statements prompted Indians

from various tribes to flock to settlements that had

been established under direction of The Church of Jesus

Christ of Latter-day Saints and to seek affiliation with

the Church. 14 In addition to experiencing very real spiritual

yearnings, many tribespeople saw strategic reasons

to align with their colonizers.

In early spring 1873, Sagwitch was told by fellow

Shoshone chief Ech-up-wy that three men had appeared

to him in a vision and said that he “must go to the

‘Mormons,’ and they would tell him what to do, and

that he must do it; that he must be baptized, with all

his Indians; that the time was at hand for the Indians to

gather, and stop their Indian life, and learn to cultivate

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the earth and build houses, and live in them.” 15 Sagwitch

gathered his sub-chiefs and traveled to Ogden to meet

with George Washington Hill, a man known to them as

Ankapompy (“Red Hair”).

Hill was a sympathetic friend to and advocate of

the Shoshone. Since his missionary days at Fort Lemhi

in the Salmon River Mission two decades earlier, he

had traded with the Shoshone and had often served

as an interpreter. 16 Chief Sagwitch informed Hill that

“the Great Spirit had sent his people dreams and other

manifestations, telling them that the Mormon people

had the true Church.” He added, “We want you to come

to our camp and preach to us and baptize us.” 17 Hill was

pleased, but he declined, explaining that he was not currently

serving as a missionary and that there was order

in the Lord’s kingdom. Sagwitch and the other Shoshone

leaders went home, then returned in a few days. Hill

declined again. Days later, a letter from Brigham Young

called Hill to Salt Lake City, where he was appointed a

missionary to gather the Indians to “a central gathering

place where they can be taught the art of civilization,

where they can be taught to cultivate the soil and become

self-supporting.” 18

“Like Fire in the Dry Grass”

Sagwitch and other chiefs again approached Hill on

May 1. Four days later, Hill took the train to the town of

Corrine, then walked twelve miles to the Shoshone camp

on the Bear River. The Shoshone were expecting him,

and he taught, baptized, and confirmed 102 Shoshone

that first day, reporting in a letter to Brigham Young,

“[I] never felt better in my life nor never spent a happier

day.” 19 In a letter to Huntington, a fellow missionary and

interpreter, Hill wrote, “To-day I am calld on to baptize

another band of about twenty and still they come, and

the work is extending like fire in the dry grass.” 20

Feeling overwhelmed, Hill asked Huntington for

counsel from Brigham Young. The next day, Sagwitch

and colleagues Warrah, Shonop, and Ejah, along with

several others, arrived in Salt Lake City and were greeted

by Huntington, who had been set apart a day earlier as

“patriarch to the Lamanites.” 21 Huntington conferred the

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“TO-DAY I AM CALLD

ON TO BAPTIZE

ANOTHER BAND OF

ABOUT TWENTY AND

STILL THEY COME, AND

THE WORK IS EXTEND-

ING LIKE FIRE IN THE DRY

GRASS.”

—George Washington Hill

Melchizedek Priesthood and ordained Sagwitch and his

companions elders.

In March 1874, to help the Shoshone develop an

agrarian lifestyle, Hill looked for available farmland near

their ancestral campground, Mosotakani, just outside

Franklin, Idaho. He worked with local bishop Lorenzo H.

Hatch and the county assessor to lay legal claim to land

near Cub Creek and south of Little Mountain. There,

Shoshone men helped dig a canal to bring water to the

land. 22 In a powwow with the colonizers, Chief Sagwitch

expressed goodwill toward them and asked to be left

alone to manage their own affairs. Sagwitch’s band were

among the core developers of this farm, and they planted

wheat, corn, potatoes, peas, melons, beans, squash, and

other vegetables. 23

“Quite a Stir among the Lamanites”

Church leaders felt that the Shoshone were now

prepared for more of the gospel message. On February

22, 1875, Wilford Woodruff endowed and sealed two

Shoshone couples in the Endowment House, including

Sagwitch and his wife (listed as Mogogah but probably

Beawoachee). 24 Efforts were ongoing to teach and baptize

Native Americans, and records show that both Huntington

and Hill used the Christensen panorama in various

locations to teach individuals and groups.

Salt Lake City bishop Frederick Kesler recorded

in his diary on March 15, 1875, that he went “to D. B.

Huntingtons to

select a place for

the Baptising of the

Lamanites which he

wants near his Dwelling.

There seems to

be quite a stir amongst

the Lamanites.” Three days

later, Kesler met at his ward’s

schoolhouse with the First Presidency—

Brigham Young, Daniel H. Wells, and

George Q. Cannon—and a sizeable

body of Native Americans. Kesler wrote,

“D. B. Huntington was interpreter. The

indians manifest a desire to go farming

& of living more as we do.” The meetings

continued on March 19: “Prst Young &

his Councilers met in council with the Lamanites in our

ward School House; 50 or 60 indians ware presant [and]

a few of our Breathern ware present. A Small panarama

got up by D. B. Huntington was exhibited commencing

with adam & eve in the garden of Eaden with several

interesting circumstances or insidences which transpired

from then until the time that the angle moroni

delivered the plates unto Joseph Smith. Each picture

was Explained unto them, they ware verry timely &

good Council.” 25

During the April 1875 General Conference of the

Church, President Young called several new missionaries

to teach the gospel—and farming techniques—to the

Indians. That year Chief Pocatello and other Shoshone

traveled to Salt Lake City and requested baptism. In

a June 1875 response to a query from Elder Joseph F.

Smith about the total number of Indian baptisms to

that point, Huntington wrote, “There have been 2,000

baptisms already,” then adding, “They are coming in by

hundreds to investigate, are satisfied and are baptized.” 26

The July 22 Deseret Evening News mentions that

Hill was then working with a Shoshone settlement in

the Malad Valley and that the men had begun digging

a canal to irrigate their crops. Hill reported that the

Indians wanted to build homes and farms and “lead

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industrious and respectable lives,

at peace with all their fellow creatures,

refraining from stealing

and all manner of bad practices,

and abide by the conditions of

their baptism.” 27

In an August 25 letter to

President Young, Hill reported:

“I find by looking over my work

that I have baptized this season

if I have not a miss count eight

hundred and eight whitch [sic]

with 102 that I baptized two years

ago and sixteen I baptized last

summer and fifteen baptized by

James H. Hill makes a total of

nine hundred and thirty nine that

belong to this mission.” 28

Unfortunately, non-Latterday-Saint

citizens of nearby Corrine

circulated rumors that the

Shoshone were using the farm as a ruse—and that they

were well-armed and preparing for an uprising against

them. 29 The district attorney fueled such rumors by

emphasizing that the Indians were “Mormons”—and

that, like their white counterparts then preparing for

the Utah War, were plotting against the US Government.

When angry Corinne residents demanded that

the Shoshone be forcibly returned to Fort Hall, the Fort

Hall agent correctly noted that this Shoshone body

had never resided at Fort Hall but had always made

the Bear River area their home. 30 Nevertheless, Chief

Sagwitch believed it wise to yield, and, in 1876, he and

his band left the farm at Bear River, relocating to undeveloped

land near present-day Tremonton. It was Hill

who named their new settlement “Lemuel’s Garden.” 31

Continued Use of the Scroll

After the death of Huntington on February 1,

1879, Hill continued to use the scroll. His daughterin-law

reported: “It was a big scroll, about [18 inches

tall], and he used to have that when he talked to the

Indians, and turned to different characters and told them

about their forefathers. I do not know what became of

that scroll, but I know grandpa had it. It had nice large

pictures of the different Nephites and different leaders.” 32

In 1880 Church leaders purchased a 1,700-acre farm

near Portage, Utah, along with the unfinished Samaria

Canal. The canal was to supply irrigation water from

Samaria Lake because the Malad River was too alkaline

for watering crops. Many Shoshone moved to this new

location, which they named Washakie after the great

Shoshone leader who yet lived at Wind River, Wyoming.

Later that year, Amos Wright was called on a mission

to the Wind River Reservation where he spent

many hours conversing with his friend, Chief Washakie.

Early on, Washakie told Wright that “Mormonism” was

an invented story, but that the Saints had always been

his friends. In broken Shoshone, Wright described the

contents of the Book of Mormon and their relationship to

American Indians. He emphasized the promises that God

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made to the descendants of Lehi. It isn’t known whether

he used the Christensen scroll, but eighty-seven people

requested baptism, including Chief Washakie himself,

together with seventeen members of his family. During a

four-week period, Wright baptized 422 Shoshone living

on or near the reservation. 33

The Shoshone community of Washakie, Utah, also

thrived over the years. Its citizens donated many hours

of labor to the construction of the Logan Temple. 34 Chief

Sagwitch, his descendants, and many members of his tribe

are buried in the Washakie Cemetery.

Longtime missionary George Washington Hill died

on February 24, 1891, and the panoramic scroll passed to

his descendants, where its presence remained generally

unknown until its rediscovery in 2007.

It was acquired by the Church History

Museum in 2017.

Conclusion: A Rich Heritage of

Service

Today, descendants of early Shoshone

converts continue a rich heritage of

service to their tribe and to the Church.

For example, Sagwitch’s son, Frank W.

Warner (born Pisappih “Red Oquirrh”

Timbimboo)—who was largely raised

by the Amos Warner family after his

mother was killed during the Bear River

Massacre—became one of the first Native

Americans to serve as a full-time

missionary for the Church. Sagwitch’s

grandson Moroni Timbimboo was the first Native

American to serve as a bishop in the Church. Greatgrandson

Darren Parry, coauthor of this article, serves

as the chair of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone

Nation and has been instrumental in purchasing

Bear River Massacre land and planning for construction

of the Boa Ogoi Cultural and Interpretive Center

that will help preserve his people’s heritage.

Darren added, “One day I read a quote attributed

to Winston Churchill, and he said, ‘History is always

written by the victors.’ That explains perfectly why my

people’s perspectives were never written.” 35

This small article and the future interpretive

center are part of a sacred history that must not be

forgotten.

ON FEBRUARY 22, 1875,

WILFORD WOODRUFF ENDOWED

AND SEALED TWO SHOSHONE

COUPLES IN THE ENDOWMENT

HOUSE, INCLUDING SAGWITCH

AND HIS WIFE.

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1 R. Devan Jensen is the executive editor

at the Religious Studies Center, Brigham

Young University. Scott R. Christensen is

a historian/archivist at the LDS Church

History Department in Salt Lake City. Darren

Parry is the chair of the Northwestern

Band of the Shoshone nation and is a

great-grandson of Chief Sagwitch.

2 The Church History Museum acquired

the scroll in 2017, where it awaits display.

Steven L. Olsen, senior historic sites curator

in the Church History Department of

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day

Saints, brought the panorama scroll to

our attention and encouraged this paper.

3 Instead of terms like “native peoples”

or “Native Americans,” most nineteenthcentury

Latter-day Saints used the term

“Lamanite” in reference to native peoples

of the Americas. For complexities attending

the usage of this term, see John-

Charles Duffy, “The Use of ‘Lamanite’ in

Official LDS Discourse,” Journal of Mormon

History 34 (Winter 2008): 118–67.

4 E. T. City, north of the present-day city

of Tooele, was named for early settler E.

T. Benson. The location is now known as

Lake Point.

5 Scott R. Christensen, Sagwitch: Shoshone

Chieftain, Mormon Elder, 1882–1887

(1999), 26. For more about late nineteenth-century

Shoshone culture, see

Leonard J. Arrington, History of Idaho

(1994), 1:45–9.

6 Christensen 30.

7 Christensen 57–8; Arrington 1:268. Beaver

Creek was soon renamed Battle Creek

(Franklin County, Idaho), and the event

was labeled the Battle of Bear River.

8 George W. Dodge to C. Delano, Secretary

of the Interior, 10 Oct 1871, “Letters,

Utah,” Roll 903, as cited in Christensen

221, n107; Christensen 77–81.

9 The date on the back appears to be 10-

1871, though it is difficult to read, even

with multispectral imaging.

10 Richard L. Jensen and Richard G.

Oman, C. C. A. Christensen, 1831–1912:

Mormon Immigrant Artist (1984), 17.

11 In Utah Territory, Huntington joined

Parley P. Pratt’s company to explore

southern Utah in 1849 and became the

first Latter-day Saint–Indian interpreter.

Latter-day Saints established Fort Supply

in Shoshone country in 1853. During

the ensuing winter, many Shoshone

sought refuge with the Latter-day Saint

settlers. Looking on this as an opportunity

to make proselytizing inroads,

the Latter-day Saints tried to learn as

much as they could from the Shoshone

regarding their marriage customs, burial

rites, and the tribal roles of the medicine

men. They also studied the Shoshone

language, and that year Huntington

published his Few Words in the Shoshone

or Snak Dialect. Huntington helped

negotiate peace treaties at Battle Creek

in Utah County (today’s Pleasant Grove)

and in Fillmore around 1855—and

following the Black Hawk War in 1868.

See “Dimick Baker Huntington,” Early

Mormon Missionaries, online.

12 R. Devan Jensen, “Philo Dibble’s

Dream of ‘a Gallery in Zion,’” Journal of

Mormon History 44.4 (Oct 2018): 19–39.

13 Wodziwob (“Gray Hair”) was a Northern

Paiute who claimed to have traveled

in a trance to another world, where he

learned that Indians could revitalize their

culture through a series of rituals, and

Ghost Dance teachings and Latter-day

Saint millennial doctrines mingled to a

degree. Gregory Smoak, Ghost Dances

and Identity: Prophetic Religion and American

Indian Ethnogenesis in the Nineteenth

Century (2006), 131; see also “Ghost

Dance,” United States History, online.

The Reverend George W. Dodge was

appointed special agent to the Western,

Northwestern, and Gosiute tribes of Utah

and Nevada in October 1871 and, in that

role, met frequently with representatives

of the various Northwestern bands.

14 George W. Dodge to C.I.A.,

24 Jul 1872, Interior, “Letters,

Utah,” Roll 903, as cited in

Christensen 222, n17.

15 George Washington Hill, “An

Indian Vision,” Juvenile Instructor, Jan

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1877, 11. Born March 5, 1822, in Athens,

Ohio, Hill was baptized a Latter-day Saint

in June 1847. In 1849 he was tasked

with helping Church emigration at the

Missouri River, returning to Utah Territory

in 1850 at the end of his emigration mission.

See “George Washington Hill,” Early

Mormon Missionaries, online.

16 During the April 1855 General Conference

of the Church, Brigham Young

called 160 missionaries to preach to

the Indians. He had appointed 27 of

those men to proselytize among the

buffalo-hunting Indians of the Bannock,

Shoshone, and Flathead nations, whose

territories lay north of Utah Territory.

Among them was George W. Hill. The

men departed from Ogden for that

missionary service on May 18, 1855.

The missionary party traveled to the

banks of the Salmon River at

a site where the Bannock,

Shoshone, Nez Perce,

and Flathead met each

summer to gamble

and trade horses

(“Salmon River

Mission Journal,”

WASHAKIE—

CHIEF OF THE

SHOSHONE,

SCULPTURE BY

R.V. GREEVES,

AT THE

BUFFALO BILL

CENTER OF

THE WEST,

CODY,

WYOMING

Church History Library; also online). Bannock

Chief Shou-woo-koo, also known as

Le Grand Coquin, greeted the Latter-day

Saints warmly and said they could settle

in the area. Latter-day Saint settlers

worked very hard to catch salmon, plant

crops, and build a fort that they called

Fort Limhi (after the Nephite Limhi, who

lived among the Lamanites in the Book

of Mormon). The Latter-day Saints began

holding classes to learn the Shoshone

language, and Hill began teaching tribal

members the restored gospel in early

May. The first Bannock converts received

baptism on May 29. Eventually fifty-five

Indians joined the Church (“Salmon River

Mission Journal,” 29 May 1855; David L.

Bigler, Fort Limhi: The Mormon Adventure

in Oregon Territory, 1855–1858 [2003],

47–9, 74, 102–4).

17 Chief Sagwitch, as cited in George

Richard Hill, “Events in the Lives of

George Washington and Cynthia Stewart

Hill, Utah Pioneers of 1847, As Recorded

by Their Son George Richard Hill,” 54, Joel

Edward Ricks Collection, Special Collections

and University Archives, Merrill-

Cazier Library, Utah State University.

18 Brigham Young to George Washington

Hill, as cited in Ralph O. Brown, “The

Life and Missionary Labors of George

Washington Hill” (MA thesis, Brigham

Young University, 1956), 59.

19 George Washington Hill to Brigham

Young, 6 May 1873, Young, “General

Correspondence, Incoming, 1840–1877,”

“General Letters, 1840–1877,” Church

History Library.

20 George Washington Hill to Dimick

Huntington, 7 May 1873, Young, “General

Correspondence, Incoming, 1840–1877,”

“General Letters, 1840–1877,” Church

History Library.

21 Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff’s

Journal, vol. 7, 1 January 1871–31

December 1880 (1985), 135, entry for 7

May 1873.

22 Christensen 96–7.

23 Christensen 105.

Some Shoshone families

remained in Franklin,

while others returned

to the Bear River area

midway between

present-day Plymouth

and Tremonton (see

Christensen 98–9).

24 Christensen 104.

25 Diary of Frederick

Kesler, 1874–1877, J.

Willard Marriott Library,

University of Utah; also

online. Jonathan A.

Stapley kindly provided

this reference.

26 Dimick B. Huntington

to Joseph F. Smith, 6 Jun 1875, in Millennial

Star, 6 Jul 1875, 426.

27 “Civilization Among the Indians,”

Deseret Evening News, 22 Jul 1875.

28 George Washington Hill to Brigham

Young, 25 Aug 1875, Young, “General

Correspondence, Incoming, 1840–1877,”

“General Letters, 1840–1877,” Church

History Library.

29 “Do the Mormons Mean War?,” Omaha

Daily Bee, 16 Jul 1874; “Apprehension

of Trouble with the Mormon Indians,”

Arizona Sentinel 14 Aug 1875; see also

Brigham D. Madsen, Corinne: The Gentile

Capital of Utah (1980), 272–89.

30 Madsen 285–7.

31 Christensen 140–50.

32 Charles E. Dibble, “The Mormon Mission

to the Shoshone Indians, Part Three,”

Utah Humanities Review 1 (Jul 1947): 284.

33 Ojibwa, “19th Century Mormon Missionaries

& the Shoshone,” online.

34 Christensen 174–7.

35 Darren B. Parry, remarks at San Juan

Freedom Fest, Blanding, Utah, 9 Sep

2017.

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Other Works

BY C. C. A. CHRISTENSEN

BY LAURA ALLRED HURTADO

In addition to Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite

Panorama], the Church History Museum collection

has over fifty other works by C. C. A. Christensen.

The following section highlights several of these additional

works, including a selection from the series

of paintings commissioned by the Church’s Sunday

School, a variety of paintings showing the trials of

early Latter-day Saints, and paintings that capture

Christensen’s experiences as an immigrant.

Sugar Creek

(1885)

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

OIL ON CANVAS

14.125 IN. X 22.125 IN. (LDS 93-169)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

Christensen was committed to depicting the

struggle of the early Latter-day Saint pioneers.

Describing Sugar Creek, Richard Oman wrote, “In

early February of 1846, thousands of Latter-day

Saints began the exodus from Nauvoo that would

eventually take them west to the Valley of the Great

Salt Lake. The first camp after crossing the Mississippi

River from Nauvoo was on Sugar Creek in Iowa

Territory. The stark trees and the snow-covered land

emphasize the intense suffering from cold weather

and inadequate preparations experienced by these

early pioneers. The ‘Camp of Israel’ moved on from

Sugar Creek in early March.” 1 Sugar Creek was gifted

by C. C. A. Christensen to his eldest son, Charles John

Christensen. It was included in two Church History

Museum exhibitions, Masterworks: C. C. A. Christensen,

1831–1912, and Mormon Immigrant Artist.

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Christ in America

(1903)

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

OIL ON BOARD

12 IN. X 18 IN. (LDS 2010-37)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

This painting, completed in 1903, returns

to the topic of Christ in America as found

in Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite Panorama].

Both paintings depict Christ, dressed in

white, at the center of the composition with

his arm pointed heavenward. Here, Christ is

surrounded by the Nephites, some of whom

wear crowns of leaves, kneeling to honor him.

Christensen appears to be drawing on practices

of the nineteenth-century picturesque, one

of which was the painter’s including within

the painting—regardless of the painting’s primary

subject or time period—Greek temples

in ruin (used in this case, obviously, to suggest

the destruction occasioned by earthquakes

prior to Christ’s appearance). The twentiethcentury

illustrator John Scott followed the

practice of the picturesque in his monumental

treatment of the same subject—the appearance

of Christ to the Nephites.

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The Building

of the Ship

(1890)

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON

CHRISTENSEN

OIL ON BOARD

24.5 IN. X 18.25 IN. (LDS 55-925)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

T

he Building of the Ship is part of a series of works (including Christ in

America) which depicted events in the Book of Mormon and which was

commissioned by the Church in behalf of the Deseret Sunday School Union.

Christensen was one of the artists selected following a competition sponsored

by the Sunday School. A Boston firm then produced colored lithographed

reproductions based on several paintings by Christensen and one by George

Ottinger. These were distributed throughout the Church as visual aids packets

for teachers. The Building of the Ship became chart 7 in this packet and depicts

the family of Lehi building the vessel that will take them to the Promised Land.

The corresponding panel in Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite Panorama] captures

the tumult and aggression that arises among the family on the sea.

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Rendering of

Manti Temple

(1889)

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON

CHRISTENSEN

OIL ON CANVAS

54 IN. X 73 IN. (LDS 55-2400)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

T

he Rendering of Manti Temple is presented in conceptual majesty in Christensen’s

1889 painting. Ground was broken for the temple in 1877, and the

temple was dedicated in 1888 by Wilford Woodruff, president of the Quorum of the

Twelve Apostles. The temple’s walls are depicted in a lighter shade than the beige

sandstone material would appear when completed. The retaining wall east of the

temple was built, but the elaborate granite staircase on the west and the additional

retaining walls were never constructed. When the painting was rediscovered, it was

found that the staircase and lower walls had been unprofessionally painted over

with green paint to make the grounds resemble the grassy hill on which the temple

sits. The painting was restored to its original state and now hangs in the lobby of the

Manti Temple. The oldest remaining mural in a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ

of Latter-day Saints is C. C. A. Christensen’s Manti Temple Creation Room.

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Nephi’s Vision

of the Virgin and

the Son of God

(1890)

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON

CHRISTENSEN

OIL ON BOARD

24.5 IN. X 18.5 IN. (LDS 55-923)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

Also part of the series commissioned

by the Sunday

School, Nephi’s Vision of the Virgin and

the Son of God became chart 5 in the

subsequent picture packet. Nephi’s

Vision shows influence of Danish religious

iconography and, like Untitled

[Huntington/Lamanite Panorama],

blends scriptural texts, given that

the painting depicts a Book of

Mormon vision reference to a New

Testament subject. It is difficult to

know from the images themselves

how prescriptive the Sunday School

board may have been in dictating

the composition of each painting

in the series they commissioned,

and further research is required to

unpack the relationship between

patron and artist.

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Emigration Ship

(1867)

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON

CHRISTENSEN

WATERCOLOR

6.75 IN. X 10.5 IN. (LDS 55-2847)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

P

ainted just ten years after Christensen’s immigration

to the United States, Emigration Ship depicts a fullyrigged

ship with an American flag flying counter to the wind

direction. While it is inconclusive, it is likely that the painting

depicts the emigrant ship Westmoreland, the ship on which

he and Elise and more than five hundred other Scandinavian

Saints sailed in 1857. Carl and Elise were married aboard the

Westmoreland.

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Scene from

Fjord on

Norway’s

West Coast

(1904)

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON

CHRISTENSEN

OIL ON BOARD

24.5 IN. X 18.25 IN. (LDS 91-14)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

D

epicting the countryside of his wife’s youth and

of his own missionary service, this painting captures

the beauty of Norway with its majestic fjords—

long, narrow, deep inlets set between high cliffs. Even

years after their immigration, they must have longed to

return to this land. Elise was from Frederickshald (now

Halden), located on the southeastern side of Norway,

a town known for nearby fjords. At the time this was

painted, Christensen was serving as temporary editor of

the Danish Latter-day Saint newspaper, Bikuben, while

its editor, Andrew Jenson, was serving a mission.

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The Separation

of the Nephites and

the Lamanites

(1890)

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

OIL ON BOARD

24.5 IN. X 18.5 IN. (LDS 55-930)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

Later becoming chart 10 of the Sunday

School picture packet, The Separation

of the Nephites and the Lamanites focuses on

the division of the family of Lehi and thus the

origin of the separation of Lehi’s family into

two separate peoples. Given the focus on

familial division in Untitled [Huntington/Lamanite

Panorama], the recurrence of this subject

in the Sunday School’s Book of Mormon series

seems significant.

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Indian Encampment

at Manti, (ca. 1870–1889)

CARL CHRISTIAN ANTON CHRISTENSEN

OIL ON BOARD

35 IN. X 72 IN. (LDS 55-1087)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

I

ndian Encampment at Manti (ca. 1870-1889) hangs inside the

Manti Utah Temple. While Christensen exaggerates race in the

work, it is a sympathetic image. The community is depicted as organized,

cooperative, industrious, and peaceful. The point of view

of the artist is also noteworthy, given that Christensen positions

himself among the community rather than outside it as a colonial

observer. In the far background, wagon trains are circled.

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Joseph Smith Preaching

to the Indians

(1890)

WILLIAM ARMITAGE

OIL ON CANVAS

115.2 IN. X 168 IN. (LDS 55-1883)

CHURCH HISTORY MUSEUM

A

nother painting depicting American Indians that

was once displayed in a temple—in this case the

Salt Lake Temple—is William Armitage’s Joseph Smith

Preaching to the Indians (1890). According to historian

David Grua, Armitage’s composition isn’t original and was

likely a “popular revision of one of the panels from C. C.

A. Christensen’s now famous Mormon Panorama series.” 3

Armitage, an English convert, also painted panoramas

and exhibited them throughout the Utah Territory. In this

Armitage painting, Smith preaches with bold bravado to

a crowd of mostly male American Indians whose expressions

vary from guarded and distrusting to shocked and

perhaps even provoked. But in all instances they are

engaged with the central figure, listening to his distinct

message regarding their history.

Joseph Smith Preaching to the Indians also resembles

an early lithograph by non-Mormon artist John McGahey.

In all three works—Christensen’s Mormon Panorama, Mc-

Gahey’s lithograph, and Armitage’s Joseph Smith Preaching—Joseph

is the obvious central figure; in all three, he

takes a singularly bold stance. However, there are marked

differences among them. Grua continues, “First, while in

Armitage’s painting there is only one other [European]

man (presumably Armitage himself ), in Christensen’s

panorama Joseph is backed by five figures including a

woman, child, and a domesticated dog, suggesting the

civility of the message, sent to colonize and domesticate

the so-called ‘noble savage.’ Furthering this suggestion,

Christensen portrays the Indians as distinctly red-faced

and generalized, uniform and stereotyped. Rather than

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C. C. A. CHRISTENSEN (1831–1912), JOSEPH PREACHING TO THE INDIANS, C.1878, TEMPERA ON

MUSLIN, 76 1/2 X 112 3/4 INCHES. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY MUSEUM OF ART, GIFT OF THE

GRANDCHILDREN OF C.C.A. CHRISTENSEN, 1970.

the primary goal of history paintings.

Instead, such paintings create a grand

narrative underscoring the importance

of central figures within the

crucial events they create or influence.

Even in its most exact rendering of a

person or event, a painting—by its

very nature—can never be an objective

let alone complete depiction of

what “really happened.” Documentary

photographs themselves—which are

often perceived as “truth”—fail to be

perfectly objective or complete. But

the viewer looking for representative

Truth will discover it within clearly,

strategically, and aesthetically composed

historical paintings.

The goal, then, of the three

works in question is not to record

an important moment as it existed

in reality, but rather to elevate the

position and mission of the Prophet

Joseph Smith. The gospel of Jesus

Christ as restored through the

Prophet Joseph is eventually taken to

all nations—almost as if Joseph were

preaching to each nation in person.

All of Christensen’s works, as a collective

body, position Joseph (and,

by extension, the Church of Jesus

Christ) as the ultimate champions of

marginalized peoples. 5

JOHN MCGAHEY TINTED LITHOGRAPH, C.1843 ©TRUSTEES OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

reflecting the cultural nuances of various tribes, Christensen paints

the ‘Red Man’ as perceived specifically by an outsider. What persists,

however, is the sense of listening, of engagement, of Joseph’s

words having a distinct value to this community.” 4

Neither Armitage nor Christensen witnessed Smith preaching

to the Indians in Nauvoo. However, historical accuracy is rarely

1 Richard Oman, “Sage Creek,” Church

History Department Museum Catalog,

catalog entry.

2 “Eliza Rosalia Christensen,” Ephraim Enterprise, 12 May

1910. Available online.

3 Laura Allred Hurtado and David Grua, “Painting the

Mythical and the Heroic: Joseph Preaches to the American

Indians,” Juvenile Instructor website, 19 Nov 2013, online.

4 Hurtado and Grua.

5 Hurtado and Grua.

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Handcart Pioneers

C. C. A. CHRISTENSEN (1831–1912)

OIL ON CANVAS, 27 IN. X 37 IN.

MUSEUM OF CHURCH HISTORY

AND ART

Handcart Pioneers is one of the

best-known and most beloved

of C. C. A. Christensen’s pioneerthemed

artwork. While showcasing

Christensen’s limitations as an artist

as well as his strengths, it wonderfully

captures his personal experience as a

member of the 7th Handcart Company

—comprised mostly of Scandinavian

Saints—that crossed the plains in 1857.

Christensen’s skill as a landscape

painter is seen in how he portrays the

prairie’s variety and character—a lush

harmony of subtle rises and vales.

The textured details of the trees in

the foreground contrast with the soft

impressionistic trees in the distance.

The stream becomes an effectual road

paralleling the stream of pioneers

emerging from the horizon. The natural

and human streams cross in the foreground,

adding tension and balance to

the larger painting.

Of course, the humans traversing

the prairie and the stream are the focus

of the painting. Bright colors draw attention

to the people and their diverse

activities. Christensen’s recollection of

clothing worn by the Scandinavian

Saints adds authenticity and interest.

Most remarkable are the details

in the scene that only an actual

handcart pioneer would have thought

to include, and they suggest real and

very personal stories. In the lower left,

the boy blowing on the kindling is

instantly recognizable by anyone who

has been around boys and campfires.

To the right, a forked tree branch props

up the handle of a handcart. Further

right, a woman collects “buffalo chips,”

the prairie’s omnipresent source of

campfire fuel. Center left, a young

mother nurses a baby; other pioneers

nearby point to approaching riders on

horseback, possibly Native Americans.

At the center a young man has tied a

rope to the handle of his family’s handcart

to help his father pull the load.

Beside them, a child is being carried

across the stream on an older brother’s

shoulders; to the right an old man

makes his solitary but assured crossing.

And on the far right a woman sits

down to tie up her skirt or underclothing

before crossing the stream.

Christensen’s Saints embody a

hardy, forward-pressing determination

and optimism. The longer we gaze on

the scene the more we appreciate the

vitality of Christensen’s art and his passion

for the pioneer experience that he

was determined to preserve.


T he Spirit of God equips mankind with many dif-

ferent talents or abilities for the benefit and joy of

all his children on earth, just as he gave them the gospel

with all its spiritual gifts, although not everyone makes

use of them to the same degree or at the same time. He

[the Spirit of God] equipped some with great wisdom

to discover the hidden treasures of nature in the area of

science. He endowed others as architects, engineers,

speakers, statesmen, poets, and artists. Others he gave

abilities as agriculturalists and cattle husbandmen, as

well as genius in the various trades ‘but all these worketh

that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every

man severally as he [the Spirit of God] will.’ 1 Cor. 12:11.”

From C. C. A. Christensen, “De skjønne Kunster” (1892); tr.

Richard L. Jensen, “The Fine Arts” (1983).

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